M.J. Tafisi has the attention of several West Coast college programs and he recently reciprocated that interest.
"At Cal I really liked the environment," Tafisi said. "The coaches really opened up to me and I've had family go through there, so I'm used to it and really like the vibe. The coaches told me they're going to be putting me inside in their defense. That's my strong point for sure. Cal is up there for me; it was good to get used to the coaches. They invited out there so it was good to visit. I feel comfortable.
"Oregon's coaches were also very inviting. They pulled me to the side and made sure I spoke to every member of the staff. They also showed me the starting lineup and where I could fit in playing a big role in their defense. My goal is actually to go out of state because I want to explore, so both of those visits were great to see things."
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound prospect is rated No. 1 among inside linebackers in the state of Utah for the 2018 class and holds 14 offers in all. He said he's also looking into visiting Oregon State and nearby Utah in the coming months.
"I've never been to Oregon State so I want to check it out," Tafisi said. "With Utah, I'm comfortable there too. My uncle, Nu'u Tafisi, used to coach there in strength and conditioning. It was a place I got used to, just chilling with the boys over there. He's at BYU now and they've been recruiting hard, too."
Comfort level is a big factor in Tafisi's recruiting process, particularly since he's trying to expand his horizons by leaving the state for college.
"If you're trying to go somewhere else for four years, you've got to like your environment," Tafisi said. "I'm also trying to get the attention of USC and UCLA. My uncle also coached at USC. The linebacker tradition at both schools is the main reason why I'm interested. I love the linebacker corps they're building out there and I would like to see if I could succeed there. I'll try to camp with both."
Tafisi intends to focus on his high school team this year before making any recruiting decisions. Official visits during the season are possible, but he said it's more likely that he'll go all in on the decision-making process until the winter. Tafisi racked up 200 tackles, including 16 for a loss, last season on his way to being a first-team all-state selection.